This is part 2 in an 11 part series on your basic home solar system. This article covers the components of the system. The basic residential solar system is comprised of 7 important must have parts. These components are the mainstay of a solar system.
The Solar Panels are the number 1 component in our system. The solar panels convert the sun's energy into electricity. Solar panels come in wattage from 5 watts up to 250 watts in 18volts for a 12 volt system or 36 volts for a 24 volt system. Panels can be hooked up in series to increase the voltage or in parallel to increase the amount of amps or a combination of both.
The combiner box is the 2nd component to introduce to you. The combiner box does just what the name suggests. This box utilizes Dc circuit breakers to combine the multiple output leads of the solar panels and combines them into one positive and one negative wire that transfers the DC power to the Charge Controller.
As previously mentioned, the Charge Controller is the 3rd item in our assembly. This piece of equipment takes the power from the Solar Panels and utilizes it to recharge the batteries. The Charge Controller constantly monitors the voltage level of the batteries and feeds them the current required to keep them at their prescribed level.
The Batteries are the 4th component in the solar power system. The batteries are "Deep Cycle" batteries. They are designed to be subjected to numerous draw down and recharge cycles. These batteries are constructed with thicker plates than your everyday "Starting" Batteries. A good example of a Deep Cycle battery is the 27DC-6 Battery found in the automated section at Wal-Mart. Deep Cycle batteries can be found in 2 volts, 6 volts, 12 volts, 24 volts or 48 volts.
The 5th component in use is the DC Disconnect. The DC Disconnect is located between the battery bank and the Inverter. The DC Disconnect is used to disconnect (Turn Off) the direct current that is running from the batteries to the Inverter.
The 6th Component is the Inverter. The Inverter takes the DC current from the battery bank and transforms it into useable 120 volts. Inverters can be found in all sizes from 100 watt models up to 10,000 watt units. The Inverter's input voltage rating must match the voltage of the battery bank. IE.12volt, 24volt, 48volt, etc.
The 7th and last item is the AC Disconnect. The AC Disconnect is to be used to interrupt the AC power from streaming from the Inverter to the panel which distributes the loads.
The above components all work together in unison to take the light from the sun and turn it into clean, free electricity. There are no moving parts except the cooling fans on the inverters. These are the components needed to create your own Solar Power Plant. Is it cheap? No, but it is not overly expensive either. In part 3 we will discuss the storage aspect of this system, the Batteries. Till then Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and never settle for less.